United States. Dept. of Agriculture.

Annual reports of the Department of Agriculture online

. (page 43 of 108)
Online LibraryUnited States. Dept. of AgricultureAnnual reports of the Department of Agriculture → online text (page 43 of 108)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


other field crops often grown in rotation with sugar beets are receiv-
ing attention.

SiKOLE-OERM BEET SEED. — Our investigations in connection with
the development of single-germ beet seed have been conducted at
three stations during the past year. It has been found advisable to
divide the work amon^ tnese stations to prevent any possible loss
that might occur if all of the work were in one place.

Inasmuch as two years are required for seed production, the work
of the past year was largely a rej>etition of the preceding year; hence,
no marked advance in the j>ercentage of smgle-germ seeds was
expected. The results, however, show a tendency toward single-
germ seed production, and we hoi>e that during the present year con-
siderable advance will be shown in the nxmiber of single-germ seeds
per plant. We expect to continue to work at the three stations the
commg year. A large nxmiber of roots from single-germ seeds are
now teing produced, and seeds from last year's plants have been
harvested. The work of producing seeds having two or more germs
per ball has been continued, and it is hoped to develop simultaneously
single, double, triple, and higher germ seed balls for the reasons indi-
cated in the last report.

Selection op beets. — In addition to the selection work along the
general lines of improving sugar beets, the development of strains of
beets resistant to alkaU and drought have been undertaken. This
work has now been xmder way for several years in cooj>eration with
Mr. T. H. Kearney, Physiologist in Charge of the Alkali and Drought
Resistant Plant Breeding Investigations of this Bureau. During the

J>ast winter our beets kept very satisfactorily and were planted in
our different places for seed production. The outlook is promising
for a satisfactory quantity of seed, and it is to be expected that by
continued selection and planting imder proper conditions the desired
results will eventually be attained. Those plants that show no par-
ticular tendency toward resisting alkali or drought conditions are
eliminated to a large extent oy nature, or are too small to be of prac-
tical value and are therefore discarded, so that only the best and
most promising of the plants are retain^ for future work. In these

66635— AOB 1908 23 ^ t

Digitized by VjOOQIC



354 ANNUAIi BEPOBTS OF DEPABTMENT OF AGBICULTUBE.

selections more or less attention is given to the size, shape, and quality
of the beet, as well as to its power to resist adverse conditions, it
is our purpose to continue these cooperative experiments imtil the
desired results are obtained.

CuLTUBAL METHODS FOB suoAB BEETS. — ^As Stated in the preceding
report, various methods of preparing the seed bed, planting the
seed, and caring for the crop have been carried on dunng the past
season as neariy as possible in exact duplication of the work of the
preceding year. We have not attained as decided results with some
of the cultural methods as was anticipated. For example, sub-
soiling has not given the results expected. For the width of the row,
28 inches was decided to be too wiae and that method was discarded.
So far as our investigations have been conducted late cultivation is
to be recommended. Other problems along the same lines are still
imder investigation and definite results that will be of considerable
value to the grower are hoped for in the near future.

Febtilizebs fob sugab beets. — FertiUzer investigations have
been conducted during the past year along the same lines as formerly,
keeping in mind the various points to he solved, namely, the best
form of fertilizer to use and wnen and how it should be appUed.

Oiu* results thus far are in favor of green manure in the form of a
leguminous crop. For the West, alfalfa is to be recommended, while
for the middle and eastern portions of the sugar-beet belt, where
alfalfa is not so generally grown, cowpeas or clover are of great value.
Stable manures have bleen foimd very satisfactory, but the supply
is too limited for general use in connection with sugar beets. Tnis
form of fertilizer should be in a thoroughly rotted condition when used.

Commercial fertilizers are variable in results produced, much
depending apparently upon the physical condition of the soil during
the growing season. If the soil is not in good physical condition,
commercial fertilizers seem to have Uttle eflFect upon the crop, while,
on the other hand, if the soil is rich and in good condition commercial
fertilizers are not needed and often produce no appreciable eflFect
upon the quaUty or yield of beets. If, however, the soil is in good
condition physically, but is deficient in plant food, commercial fer-
tilizers yield a good profit for time and money expended. We expect
to continue our fertilizer experiments imtil other important ques-
tions in connection with them are definitely settled.

Siloing seed beets. — One of the greatest difficulties in the way
of beet-seed production in certain localities in this country is due to
the difficulty of keeping the seed beets through the winter. Realiz-
ing the importance of this phase of beet-seed growing, numerous
experiments for the purpose of determining the best general method
of keeping sugar beets auring the winter have been carried on. In
our experiments during the past winter various methods of covering
the beets were used. Among the materials used were straw covered
with soil, burlap covered with soil, soil alone, and sand. Some of
the beets were also treated with various kinds of fungicides before
siloing. For this purpose copper sulphate, Bordeaux mixture, forma-
lin, and mercuric chlorid were used. Beets were soaked in one of
these solutions for a definite time and then siloed.

The most serious difficulty experienced during the past winter was
with field mice. Many of the crowns were injured in all silos except



Digitized by



Google



BUBEAU OF PLANT INDUSTBY. . 355

those where sand was used for the covering. In these the beets
kept almost perfectly. These experiments will be repeated with such
additions and changes as the experience of the past winter suggests.

Extension op the sugar-beet abea. — During the past vear several
hundred requests for samples of sugar-beet seed for trial have been
received from farmers hving in many of the States where sugar beets
are not now grown commercially. So far as possible these requests
have been comphed with, and the indications are that several new
sugar-beet areas will develop as a result of these tests. In sending
the seed, instructions for planting and caring for the beets are fur-
nished at the same time, and samples of beets from these fields or
plots are tested for sugar and purity at the end of the season. These
tests are made in the Bureau of Chemistry or at the State agricul-
tural experiment stations. Much interesting and valuable informa-
tion regarding the possibihties of growing sugar beets in other sec-
tions is obtained in this manner, and while the farmers have not as a
rule any market for the beets grown they find them very valuable
for stock feed, and for this purpose the beets repay them for the
labor and expense incurred. Efforts are always made to have
several farmers in the same locaUty grow beets, in order that all of
the varieties of soil may be tested and so that in case one or more of
the farmers fail to produce beets samples may be obtained for the
sugar and purity tests. It is also our expectation that when a com-
munity takes up this work it will continue the experiments for several
years unless the results of the first year are so far below the standard
required that further investigations seem useless.

Sugar-beet by-products. — Information regarding the use of the
by-products of the sugar factories is being collected and filed for
future use. This relates not only to the tops of the beets which are
left in the field, but also to the waste molasses, pulp, and other
by-products of the factories. Many of these things undoubtedly
have commercial value, and it is the aim of this office to help the
grower and manufacturer to find the best possible use for all parts of
the beet and for all the by-products developed directly or indirectly
in the manufacture of sugar. It is evident that in some localities
certain of the by-products can be used to best advantage in one way,
while in other portions of the sugar-beet belt they may be of greater
value when utilized in an entirely different manner. These matters
are receiving careful attention, and as soon as sufficient information
of a definite nature is obtained reports will be prepared for pubUcation.

ABUNGTON EXPERIMENTAL FABM AND TBT70K-0BOP INVESTI-
GATIONS.

The maintenance and improvement of the Arlington, Va., Experi-
mental Farm and the aUied investigations in horticulture have con-
tinued in charge of Prof. L. C. Corbett, Horticulturist. The work
of vegetable testing, conducted by Mr. W. W. Tracy, sr., has been
affiliated with the other truck-crop investigations, as heretofore
stated.

work of the ARLINGTON EXFSRIHENTAL FARM.

The work of the Arlington Experimental Farm has been continued,
as in the past, under the immediate direction of Professor Corbett.
The popularity and value of the farm as a field laboratory for use



Digitized by ^



ioogle



356 ANNUAL R5P0ETS OF DEPABTMENT OF AGBICULTUBB.

by all branches of the service requiring such aid is annually increasing
Trtiis is due to improved soil conditions, better equipment both in
buildings and tools, and a more thorough understanding of the char-
acter of work required from them by the laborers. In this respect
the farm is serving the purpose for which its promoters have been
striving.

Investigations conducted by vaeious Bureaus.— All the
Bureaus conducting lines of work at the farm enumerated in the last
annual report are continuing their investigations, and in several
cases have notably increased them. This is true of the work of the
Forest Service and of the drug garden. During the year the home
field work of cereal investigations has in part been transferred to the
farm, and new plantations of fruit trees for the study of crown-gall
and hairy-root have been estabUshed.

Buildings. — During the year the farm and shop buildings have
been painted and partially remodeled, the gasoline en^ne has been
removed from the bam. and the machine and plumbing shop has
been transferred from the basement of the bam to the wrst floor of
the shop building. The space thus vacated has been converted into
box stalls and harness and carriage rooms. This brings all the
stock into one building, and the shops together in another. A 7J-
horsepower electric motor which furnishes power for grinding and
thrashing has been substituted for the gasohne engine and installed
in the imll room. A 5-horsepower electric motor has been installed
to furnish power for the drill press, pipe-threading machines, forge,
etc., in the machine shop and a saw and jointer in the carpenter
shop. The electric line nas been extended to the drug laboratory
to rumish power for the electro-culture work and the necessary
cleaning and grinding machinery used in connection with the drug
experiments. A boiler has also been installed in the basement or
the drug laboratory for heating and distilUng purposes. A third
boiler is now being installed in the central heating plant, which
has been extended to all the buildings except the drug laboratory.

Gbeenhouses. — One house has been devoted to a study of the
merits of bhnd versus flowering wood cuttings in rose growing; one
house and a half to fertilizer studies in carnation growing; one-half
house to a variety study of forcing types of radishes, and two houses
to the study of greenhouse physics, lettuce being used as the inter-
preting crop. Two more houses are now under construction, which,
when completed, will make eight of the ten houses necessary to com-
plete the range; the potting shed is being extended to completion,
which will make it 200 feet in length; a steam-heated cement hotbed
90 feet in length has been constructed immediately south of the
range of greemiouses, to be used for the starting of sweet potato
plants and the wintering of various other plants. During the jear
there were propagated in the houses 1,400 roses, 3,000 carnations,
and 8,401 bedding and miscellaneous plants.

Landscape gardening. — ^The lawns have been extended some-
what and now cover an area of about 12 acres. The parking, 37 feet
wide on either side of the entrance drive, has been graded and seeded.
The planting of trees and shrubs about the grounds has been con-
tinued, 111 evergreens, 31 deciduous trees, and 239 shrubs having



Digitized by



Google



BUBEAU OP PLANT INDUSTRY. 357

been placed during this year. This makes a total now growing upon
the lawns of 111 evergreens, representing 68 species and varieties;
151 deciduous trees, belonging to 27 species and varieties; and 360
ornamental shrubs, classed in 52 species and varieties.

Nursery work. — The nursery work has been continued as here-
tofore. There were ^afted during the winter and spring months
1,790 apples, comprising 154 varieties, and 300 pears, consisting of
13 varieties. In addition, 214 figs and 284 shrubs were rooted from
cuttings and 1,157 grape seedlings were grown, making a total of
4,166 fruit trees. Besides these, there are now in the nursery 837
bush fruits, 4,104 fruit-tree seedlings for stocks, 8,786 ornamental
trees, 1,976 ornamental shrubs, 15,000 privet plants, 60,000 mul-
berry seedlings, and 6,000 hardy herbaceous perennials.

Orchard cultivation. — The variety peach orchard was resown
to crimson clover last August, and the heavy crop resulting therefrom
was turned under in May of the current year. The orchard has been
kept in clean cultivation during the summer and will be resown to
cnmson clover again this fall. The trees have made a good growth
and a number of varieties are bearing fruit this season.

The variety apple orchard was sown to crimson clover for the first
time in August, 1907, and matured a heavy crop, which was turned
under in May and followed by cowpeas with the hope of securing a
crop of cowpea hay in time to again seed to crimson clover this fall.
The cultivation and planting in tne cover-crop orchard has been con-
tinued, as previously outlined. The planting of about 500 apple
trees and 400 peach trees has been made for the pathological study
of crown-gall and root diseases.

The cranberry work which was just being undertaken at the time
of the last report was but partially successful, due largely to the lack
of control of the water. This has been remedied and a portion of the
block replanted and sanded. The plants are now well established
and making a thrifty growth. A small plantation, consisting of
about 30 varieties of strawberries, most of which are new and have
not yet been fruited or disseminated in this section, has been made
for testing purposes. This will be increased as other new varieties
are sent in.

Soil improvement. — ^The soil-improvement work is being con-
tinued along the same lines as heretofore. About 100 acres or cow-
peas are being grown and turned under each year. Upon the lands
that are now simiciently improved for the growing of crimson clover
the winter crop of rye has been supplanted by crimson clover. A
portion of the southwest comer of the farm covering'sections A, B, C,
and D, from the apple orchard to the southern boundary, was seeded
with a meadow mixture consisting of tall meadow oat-grass, orchard
grass, and alsike clover in September, 1907, and yielded about 2 tons
of hay per acre at harvest.

Drainage. — During the year a large area haa been graded and
surface drained and about 8 acres tile drained. A portion of two of
the large open ditches near the front entrance has been tiled and
filled. About 11,000 feet of 2-inch, 760 feet of 4-inch, 2,200 feet of
6-inch, and 1,800 feet of 12-inch tile were laid during the year.



Digitized by



Google



358 ANNUAL BEPOBa?S OF DEPABTMENT OF AGRICULTURE.
SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS IN HOBTICXJLTTJBE.

The miscellaneous investigations conducted in connection with the
Arlington Experimental Farm comprise experiments and demonstra-
tions with various truck crops, including the testing of vegetable
varieties and the encoiiragement of school-garden work throughout
the country.

Truck-crop survey. — ^The work of accumulating data upon the
time of planting, harvesting, and marketing truck crops is bemg car-
ried on as in the past, with the hope that we will soon be in position
to outline the important zones in which truck crops of a given char-
acter can be normaUy grown to meet the market requirements during
definite periods. As soon as this is accomplished the normal acreage
for each zone will be studied with the hope that ultimately growers
will plant in accordance with normal market requirements, in order
that neavy losses from overproduction may be avoided.

The study of field and market conditions upon which the truck-
crop survey is based has led to a line of work which involves the
improvement and standardizati.on of conmiercial sorts of vegetables.
We now have under way work which will ultimately greatly increase
the average profits from cabbage, beets, spinach, and potatoes.
The work has already progressed far enough to make this prediction a
safe one. While we do not hope for marked results from potatoes, it
is beUeved that the agCTegate crop can be greatly increased by care-
fully selecting seed. Dunng the year the Bermuda onion growing
districts of Texas were visited and a study made of the methods foE
lowed by the growers. .

Fertilizer experiments with truck crops. — ^The difficulties
encountered by truck growers through crop failures which could not
be attributed to insect enemies or plant mseases led to the inaugu-
ration of extensive fertilizer tests in the Norfolk area and upon Lon^
Island in order that reUable information concerning the safe and
econopaical use of commercial fertilizers might be obtained. These
tests involve treatments to determine the safety limit in the use of
high-grade conmiercial manures, as well as the limits of the profitable
use of these manures to the grower. The work of the year is exceed-
ingly encouraging and resulte alreadjr obtained, wliile not conclusive,
may with profit be used by commercial growers of truck crops. The
crops involved in these investigations are potatoes, cabbage, spinach,
beans, caidiflower, and asparagus.

Potatoes. — The variety tests with Irish potatoes which have been
conducted in cooperation with the State experiment stations of Ver-
mont, West Virgmia, and Wisconsin have this season all been cen-
tered at Washington. The trials under way this year consist of the
Arlington Experimental Farm collection of 140 varieties; returned from
Vermont, 64 varieties: returned from West Virginia, 55 varieties;
additions to the West Virginia collection, 42 varieties; returned from
Wisconsin, 14 varieties; and, in addition to these, 102 European
varieties, making a total of 417 diflferent tests. The work with sweet
potatoes, especiallv with regard to storage and varieties adapted to
certain localities, nas been continued and an excellent variety col-
lection maintained.



Digitized by



Google



BUREAU OF PLANT INDUSTRY. 359

Rice-land investigations. — During the past year the work on
the rice lands of the South Atlantic coast was continued. As a
result of the experiments conducted during the past three years
we have been forced to the conclusion that these lands are not so
well adapted to the growth of either truck or forage crops as the
surrounding high lands. Experiments have been conducted with
every crop that would Ukely prove profitable^ with the results previ-
ously mentioned. The work has been discontmued for the present.

The peanut industry. — ^Investigations of the peanut industry
of the United States have been pursued, especially along the line
of better cultural methods and the possibiUties of the production of
peanut oil. During the year experiments have been conducted
along the line of improving the present methods of hfting and har-
vestmg the crop, with the result that at least two machines that
will do the work economically are now being used. During the
present year it is the plan to continue work dong the same lines,
especially in cooperation with the Virginia truck experiment station
at Norfolk, Va.

Vegetable testing. — ^Variety trials and descriptive notes were
made of a general collection of garden vegetables, including samples
of all obtainable novelties and new stocks. The collections of radishes
and garden beets were especially full and complete. The results of
similar exhaustive trials of garden beans made during the past five
years have been collected and condensed into the form of a bulletin
giving full descriptions of all of the distinct varieties of garden beans
offered by Amencan seedsmen.

A number of the larger trial grounds of seedsmen and those at
different experiment stations, as well as locations where truck crops
were largely grown, were visited and notes of the results obtained
at these places were made for comparison with those secured at
Arlington. The work of devising forms through the use of which
comparable variety notes could be made by different observers in
different locations has been continued and material progress made.
The development of pure stocks of seed of true varietal type for use
in the production of seed for the Congressional Seed Distnbution has
been continued and progress made.

Tests to determine the effect of the local conditions where the seed
was ^own on the character of the plants produced from it have been
contmued and satisfactory progress made.

School gardens. — Owing to the fact that the number of requests
for seeds for school gardens increased 33 per cent over the previous
year, while the allotment of seed for the purpose remained constant,
the apportionment of seed to each school was correspondingly less.
It is unfortunate that the number of requests honored does not indi-
cate the number of schools receiving the seeds. About 1,400 requests
have been honored^ but in many instances these were from superin-
tendents or supervisors who requested seeds for all the schools under
their control, so that it is safe to say that at least three times as manj
schools received seeds as there were requests honored. On this basis
the seeds at our disposal were sufficient only to allow nine or ten
individual gardens to each of the schools desiring them. The in-
crease in the number of requests received for seeds for school gardens



Digitized by



Google



360 ANNUAL REPORTS OF DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE.

may be taken as a true index of the growing popularitv of this charac-
ter of instruction in our common schools. The distribution this year
has been chiefly confined to sets of flower and vegetable seeds for
individual gardens. In addition, however, nearly 5,000 sets of
decorative seeds have been used, besides 2,000 collections of economic
seeds. The distribution of economic seeds for school-garden purposes
was an innovation this season. The plan is to place in the nands of
teachers samples of seed of the important grasses, cereals, and fiber
and forage plants in order that students of one locality may become
acquainted with the plants which are staple crops not only in their
own locahty but in the other important crop areas of the United
States. The quantity of seed of each variety was small but sufficient
to enable at least 1 square rod of the crop to oe grown. It is beUeved
that the growing of this illustrative material will add an important
feature to the individual work in the school garden.* The economic
set sent out this year consisted of the foUowmg: American Upland
cotton, broom com, buckwheat, com, flax, hemp, Kafir com. millet,
peanut, springbarley, spring oats, spring rye. alsike clover, red clover,
white clover, Kentucky bluegrass, and timotny.

Plans for future work. — The general policy now in force in the
management of the Arlington Experimental Farm will be continued.
The great handicap to the work at the farm at the present time is the
lack of office ana laboratory faciUties. The increased number of
men engaged in the conduct of scientific investigations at the farm
have crowded the present office space and there is no means of pro-
viding space for any of the special lines of laboratory work now
needed at the farm.

The truck-crop investigations are to be continued along the same



Online LibraryUnited States. Dept. of AgricultureAnnual reports of the Department of Agriculture → online text (page 43 of 108)